Day 46: June 8, 2019
Destination: Great Divide Alternate Mile 45.5
Today’s Miles: 23.3
Start Location: Great Divide Alternate Mile 22.2
Trip Miles: 710.0
I woke up early in the valley on the side of the road. Mouse was already up - I could hear her in her tent.
It was quite chilly, so, per usual, I struggled to get going. I was up and hiking by 6:10, though, which is pretty good for me.
I spent all morning walking the same forest road and gazing at the valley. I made a short stop at a campground privy, a rare find on the CDT! All morning I passed people fishing in the stream.
Around 11 I made it to the Golden Nugget Cafe in Platoro. Mouse was already there. Apparently she passed me when I was using the facilities at the campground. I ordered a Ruben sandwich and had a Doctor Pepper. Mouse and I spread our gear out back so the condensation would dry.
The couple working at the restaurant and shop were actually from Marietta, GA, a suburb of Atlanta. It was funny to meet people from home. We filled up water at the restaurant because we were told not to filter and drink any ground water for 20 miles. Not only are the mountains a source of heavy metals, but mining activity over the years has released a lot of icky stuff into the soil. Hiking out of Platoro, once you get up high enough you can see the reddish mountain tops that are rich in iron ore. There are some plaques in the route about mining activity in the area, as well as the remains of an old cabin.
Once I hiked down to that cabin, it was only up from there. I had already hiked 20 miles for the day, but it was only 3PM. The next stretch would take me all the way up over 11,000 feet to Elwood Pass, and I would be up at elevation for about 23 miles. I kept hiking, wanting to get as far as I could but both stay where I didn’t have to camp on snow, and not go past 11,000 feet so that it wouldn’t be as cold at night.
As I walked up the road, the white caps of mountains loomed closer. Snow bumps started to appear on the road. I went through them and sometimes around them. I kept pushing until there was more snow than not, then I started to look for spots to camp. I stumbled upon two lakes. Before them a sign warned that they were private property and that motorists should stay in their cars and keep moving. I looked more closely and the sign said the particular development company’s lease was from 1988 to 1998. Perfect! I camped right by the first lake. No cars were going to make it up that road anyway.
I got to camp at 4 - so early! It was nice to putter around a bit doing camp chores. It’s going to be chilly tonight, maybe even freezing. It was really windy earlier but the wind has since died down. The lake is about 50% covered in ice, and I’m lying here looking at it as I type this. Mouse must have camped down the hill back south.
Today the weather was beautiful and it was the first day in a very long time that I didn’t feel a single drop of rain! It was fun passing through a little town, and I feel well positioned for the hiking tomorrow. I saw a lot of deer today, three of which were very curious about me and just stared and stared at me. I know it is going to be tougher to get going tomorrow morning with the cold. I’ll do my best!